November 14, 2018 / 1:52 PM / a month ago

Supermarket retailer Ahold looking for U.S. acquisitions: newspaper

The Ahold Delhaize logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Zaandam, Netherlands August 23, 2018. Picture taken August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch-Belgian supermarket group Ahold Delhaize (AD.AS), the owner of the Stop & Shop and Giant Food stores, is looking for acquisitions in the United States, its chief executive said in a Dutch newspaper report.

The comments in Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad signal a potential strategy shift for Ahold under chief executive Frans Muller, who took on the top job in July after overseeing the company’s U.S. business.

“We have a strong market share in regions where we are active. That gives us a good starting point to join in the acquisition game,” Muller said in the Financieele Dagblad report.

There were no details about possible targets or how much the company might spend in the report. The company’s strategy is to bolster its U.S. online business, where sales grew by 12 percent in the third quarter.

Ahold Delhaize has said in the past it mainly planned to grow organically in the U.S., where it generates two-thirds of its sales and operates Peapod, the leading online grocery delivery business.

The U.S. market is tough for food retailers, including Amazon (AMZN.O), and Walmart (WMT.N), which are all competing for online grocery customers.

Ahold Delhaize said on Tuesday it expects to double its online sales to around 7 billion euros ($8 billion) by 2021. As part of that strategy it will introduce small, automated warehouses at U.S. stores to speed up delivery times and reduce costs.

($1 = 0.8861 euros)

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch. Editing by Jane Merriman

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